“I am not for sale” is the message from Nigerian women participating in a new advertising campaign supported by the UK government, which aims to tackle the scourge of modern slavery.
The Not for Sale campaign seeks to tell positive, aspirational stories that might help discourage women in Nigeria from being lured by traffickers selling false promises of a better life in the UK.
Nigeria is the fourth largest source of human trafficking to the UK and and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimates that approximately 80% of girls arriving to Europe from Nigeria through irregular migration are potential victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. Meanwhile, the Global Slavery Index estimates that 136,000 people in the UK are living in modern slavery.
Women featured in the campaign have real-life stories of their own – for example, Gift Johnathan, a mother of two who was tortured and raped while attempting to get to Europe, but managed to make it back to Nigeria and find work as a chef.
The campaign named as “Not for Sale” is supported by @UKaid & involves the National Crime Agency and the UK’s Joint Border Task Force, as well as Nigerian law enforcement, focuses on the aspirational stories of women who have established successful careers in Nigeria.#TheICIRpic.twitter.com/QgbuhJkjYm— The ICIR (@TheICIR) April 16, 2019
“When I made it to Nigeria, I met with people who registered me in a vocational centre and encouraged me. Today I’m a baker in Benin making enough money to take care of my family...My name is Gift Jonathan and I am not for sale” Jonathan says in the campaign materials.
The campaign was launched in March across radio, TV, and print in Nigeria and was devised by Nigeria’s national anti-trafficking agency with support from UK aid as well as the National Crime Agency and the UK’s Joint Border Task Force.
The website includes links to women’s groups, entrepreneurship programmes, and job sites, and has a form where people can submit their own stories in the hope of inspiring others to think again about what they might be able to do at home before going with traffickers.
Not everyone working in the field is convinced the message will be effective due to the lack of options desperate women face. "It’s not that people who were trafficked haven’t considered opportunities at home,” Anna Sereni of Anti-Slavery International told the Thompson Reuters Foundation.
But those behind the campaign believe that a new approach is worth trying.
NOT FOR SALE CAMPAIGN in Benin, Edo State @tunde_oderinde@DAIGlobal@DFID_UK@DFIDNigeria@DrJoeAbah@_NDLink@PINDFoundation@naptipnigeria@InvestEdo@EdoJobs@GuardianNigeria@geniushubglobal@InvestEdo@EdoJobspic.twitter.com/PD2KjA3d8X— MADE Nigeria (@MADENigerDelta) April 17, 2019
“Most prevention campaigns in Nigeria have focused on the horror stories and dangers of trafficking, but this has proved ineffective,” the Department for International Development’s (DFID) modern slavery lead in Lagos, Richard Sandall said, also speaking to the Thompson Reuters Foundation.
“As we were developing this proposal we began to hear stories that actually these negative stories were almost reinforcing the urge to go. We wanted to create a different narrative,” said Sandall.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and it is estimated it has 1.4 million people living in modern slavery.